Despite hopeful news from a 2010 Lancet study that maternal deaths have fallen by more than 35 percent in the past 30 years, the number of maternal deaths is still too high. In 2008, 342,900 women died from complications in pregnancy or during childbirth; 80 percent were from 21 developing countries. Many of those deaths could have been prevented with proper obstetric care.
Another challenge facing the global women’s movement is that in many parts of the world, women's bodies and their sexuality is denied, hidden and controlled by men, governments and religious institutions. Many countries have recently introduced laws restricting women’s control over their bodies, including anti-abortion and discriminatory laws governing women’s sexual preferences.
Over 24 years, the Global Fund for Women has
- Supported advocacy for women’s reproductive rights in 94 countries, including successful efforts to legalize abortion in Mexico City and Colombia.
- Invested in the first “out” lesbian groups in several countries, including China, Croatia, India, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Mexico, Slovenia, Thailand, and Turkey.
- Sustained hundreds of lesbian rights organizations, including those operating in at least 10 nations that criminalize homosexuality.
Imagine a world where all women could make decisions over their own bodies as fully empowered participants in societies. Women would have the right to bodily integrity and access to quality health services—free of discrimination, coercion and violence. At the GFW, we believe that a woman has the undeniable right to make decisions over her body about her body, including the number and spacing of her children or to interrupt a pregnancy. GFW supports women’s groups in 172 countries carry out this vision to advance women’s health, sexual preferences and reproductive rights.
GFW provides grants to courageous, determined women’s rights activists working daily to preserve and expand women’s rights to health, and the freedom to fully express their sexual and reproductive choices. Our grantee partners often put their own lives at risk by pushing against governments and religious institutions in their efforts to reach the most vulnerable and marginalized populations. In their work with adolescent girls, rural women, indigenous women, sex workers, HIV-positive women, and lesbians and transgender individuals, our grantee partners are fostering a cultural and political landscape in which girls and women can make informed choices about their sexuality, reproductive capacity and health.
GFW takes a holistic approach in our grantmaking by prioritizing two broad themes: advancing women’s health and ensuring women’s sexual and reproductive rights.
GFW grantees Advance Women’s Health by ensuring that women have access to quality health care at all stages of their lives. Here are some of the ways they do this »
- Offer women regular check-ups and screening by gynecologists, and are often the only ones in their villages running reproductive health clinics.
- Provide and advocate for maternal health through pre- and post-natal care, nutrition, safe birthing and access to midwives.
- Advocate for the primary health of their children and the prevention of early childhood marriage.
- Seek greater understanding of the impact of environmental degradation, contamination, and climate change on women’s health.
- Ensure that women living with HIV/AIDS have rights, as do their survivors and those who care for them. Women’s groups work tirelessly to ensure women living with HIV/AIDS have access to treatment, counseling, and life-saving medication.
- Engage at the policy level, working to ensure governments prioritize funding comprehensive health services for women and to reform the health industry to be more gender-inclusive and promoting greater investments into women’s health research and services in national budgets. They advocate for parental rights, such as maternity and paternity leave, nursing rooms and regulations to protect the rights of pregnant women and working mothers.
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GFW grantees Advance Sexual and Reproductive Rights by working to »
- Educate women and girls on the full range of contraceptives available and how to use them safely.
- Ensure that respect, protection, and fulfillment of women’s reproductive rights is policy and the law.
- Explore sexual identity and work to change the cultural and political debate on sexual orientation and gender identity, challenging both conservative elements of society and mainstream women’s movements.
- Address notions of femininity and masculinity and their cultural and physical expression in society.
- Make connections between HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence.
- Protect women's right to reproductive choice. Work to decriminalize and expand access to safe abortion.
- Build alliances between the women’s and LBTQ rights’ movements to oppose sexual oppression by governments and religious institutions.
- Support sexual minorities’ right to freedom of sexual expression in the face of formidable challenges from the church, state and even factions within the women’s movement.
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